A sea of Arizona teachers clad in red shirts headed toward the state Capitol in Phoenix Thursday as they took part in an unprecedented walkout that closed most of the state’s public schools.
The Associated Press reports that tens of thousands of teachers and their supporters, waving signs and red balloons, gathered for a rally at the state Capitol to press their demands for a 20 percent raise for teachers and a boost in other educational resources.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has proposed a raise for teachers of about 20 percent by 2020-2021. But teachers say that isn't enough.
The crowd in downtown Phoenix began its 2-mile trek to the Capitol; demonstrators carried signs saying, “Money for Schools” and “Make Schools Great Again.”
The walkouts are the latest chapter of an uprising that has spread from West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Colorado.
In Colorado, more than 10,000 educators rallied Thursday around the state Capitol in Denver. They chanted, “Education is our right” and “We’re not gonna take it anymore” and drew honks from passing cars. About half of all Colorado students will see their schools shuttered over two days.
Lawmakers there have agreed to give schools their largest budget increase in a decade. But teachers say Colorado has a long way to go to recover lost ground because of strict tax and spending limits.
In Arizona, Gov. Ducey says he won't be increasing his offer for a salary increase; he says he has no plans to meet with striking teachers and or address their other demands.
Ducey’s unwillingness to meet with organizers makes teachers believe they “will be out for a while," says Joe Thomas of the Arizona Education Association. He says the walkout has no end date.
Teachers and some lawmakers say Ducey's proposal relies on excessively rosy revenue projections. A key legislative leader says any budget deal that could provide money for teachers is at least several days away.
More than 840,000 Arizona students were expected to be out of school Thursday. The state Department of Education said the state has more than 1.1 million schoolchildren.